By Desiree Taimanglo-Ventura on 21 November 2009 in Drowning Mermaid
Image above: My cousin Seth looks out at the family land which will be a Marine firing range.
General David Bice, executive director of the Joint Guam Program Office, has repeatedly assured the local community that the federal government would not condemn lands for use of the military buildup, but JGPO director Col John Jackson did not back up Bice’s statements during a recent radio interview.
Jackson gave evasive, vague and noncommittal responses when K-57’s Breakfast Show host Ray Gibson asked him if the military intends to condemn Guam lands. Residents were also assured earlier that the military was not interested in acquiring land in the Sasayjan Valley in the Marbo area in Yigo, but the recently released draft environmental impact statement shows otherwise. During a recent interview with Variety, Bice said the military would look into the acquisition of lands. “That's how we're going to approach this. It would be a normal acquisition process and that has yet to be determined as we go forward on that,” he told Variety.
Not at any price
Some local landowners said they would be interested in negotiating with the military for their portions of property in the Yigo area, but landowners of the adjacent properties within the footprint of the proposed firing ranges on the northeastern coast of the island are not willing to give up their lands at any price. Landowner Glenn Nelson said that the draft environmental impact statement should have also taken into consideration other sites that are federally-owned to include off-island properties, and that non-federally owned lands should be the last option. “I’m not so sure anymore if people actually grasp the concept of the potential negative impacts associated with this buildup other than the dollar signs attached to the various projects. I need help, the island needs help. This project is moving much too quick and impacts are far too great,” said Nelson.
Not theirs yet
Landowners in that area have said Benny Crawford, who leads the Tiyan landowners, are not the only landowners involved. Crawford seems poised to negotiate lands without the authority of other landowners whose lands lie within the footprint. Furthermore, Crawford and the Tiyan landowners don't even own those properties. They are still under the inventory of the Ancestral Lands Commission.
Memories of Guam
SUBHEAD: Making a record of US military taking of foreign lands.
By Desiree Taimanglo-Ventura on 21 November 2009 in Drowning Mermaid - (http://thedrowningmermaid.blogspot.com/2009/11/making-mad-dash-for-memories.html)
Image above: Koohan sits and speaks with friends and relatives at a regular family BBQ
Award winning documentary filmmaker, and author of the recently published Superferry Chronicles, Koohan Paik, used her talents to help create footage of civilian lands scheduled for military take over.
I brought Koohan to my family's property, which is expected to be taken and used as a Marine firing range. She spent the day walking over the cliff line that held many happy memories for my family and I, and interviewing friends and relatives who regularly spend time on the property.
I have to admit, it was depressing doing this with her. She asked a lot of questions about how we felt; but it seemed pointless to answer them. As a territory, we don't get to decide. I'm grateful for what the United States did for our island when it was under Japanese occupation; but it's a situation that is hard to feel completely happy about. It's a very big sacrifice; and I do hope for the best for our island.
People keep trying to convince me that this will improve our economy and create new jobs, but anyone who takes a close look at their plans will see that the jobs created will not be those which significantly help our residents. They're mostly part-time jobs that will have limited to no benefits, or jobs that migrant workers and contracted employees from elsewhere will take. I wonder if completely trashing our environment is worth it. It's hard to feel ecstatic or eager about all of this.
I guess my feeling is one of sad acceptance. Nonetheless, this piece of property is very special to my family. I'm glad Koohan's camera was able to preserve memories of it. Seeing the map in the newspaper showing how drastically the island will change has made me realize how much I need to take pictures, spend time hiking, going to the beach, and enjoying the island before it turns into this new place the military has planned for us.
Ea O Ka Aina: Guam - Another strategic island 11/9/09
Island Breath: PMRF Land Grab 3/15/04